Autodesk’s Official Statement on DWG and ODA

I recently asked Autodesk bashers an open question. Not happy with the replies I decided it was time to get it straight from the horse’s mouth. Nobody at ODA was prepared to comment in public. However, Autodesk’s Director of Corporate Communications, Caroline Kawashima, was kind enough to entertain me. I asked her whether Autodesk had a whitepaper or some kind of document which describes Autodesk’s position on the DWG file format. Here is what I wrote to her:

“I am not sure whether Autodesk has done a good job explaining to its customers (or the general public) the reasons why it does not want to open the DWG format. I have read an interview with the Autodesk CEO wherein he makes a few points regarding this topic. Apart from that I couldn’t find anything else. Maybe I have not looked hard enough. I guess you should have the material I am looking for.”

This is Autodesk’s official statement:

“Actually Autodesk has a very reasonable licensing program for its DWG libraries, Autodesk’s RealDWG developer’s toolkit. Many companies have signed on to that license, and are producing authentic “TrustedDWG” files as part of their implementation of RealDWG. We have an obligation to them, as well, to protect the TrustedDWG program. Our competitors also have proprietary file formats that they may license on a selective basis—Autodesk’s practice is generally consistent with the industry practice.”

I tend to agree with the last sentence. Almost all of Autodesk’s competitors have not opened their proprietary file formats. So why should Autodesk? … and so the problems of interoperability in the CAD software industry will continue to exist.

The statement also covers the Autodesk-ODA law suit.

“The ODA software libraries contain technology that falsely identifies customer data files their software creates as Autodesk-created files. We have the right to control the use of our trademark and we depend on that right in informing customers of the source of the files they are introducing in their CAD environments. The ODA interfered with our ability to do that. The ODA failed to respond to our reasonable request to stop violating our rights. As a result Autodesk is suing the ODA in order to defend its ability, through TrustedDWG, to assure our customers of the source of customer data files and make sure the origin of the files is not falsely attributed. The ODA’s latest software libraries mimic TrustedDWG and defeat the very purpose of the program. We are relying on trademark laws to protect our ability to inform customers of the source of customer data files.”

Pretty much the same as what their lawyers are saying in court. At least this is the first official statement that I have seen.

  • BillF

    If the real question here is “ownership of data”, why doesn’t the Open Design Alliance change its name to the Open DATA Alliance, and start pressuring ALL software vendors in EVERY market to open their file formats? Let’s start with all the various Microsoft Office products, for example…

    I’m not necessarily arguing against the ODA’s position, I’m just saying that if it is correct then it should be universally correct.

  • BillF

    If the real question here is “ownership of data”, why doesn’t the Open Design Alliance change its name to the Open DATA Alliance, and start pressuring ALL software vendors in EVERY market to open their file formats? Let’s start with all the various Microsoft Office products, for example…I’m not necessarily arguing against the ODA’s position, I’m just saying that if it is correct then it should be universally correct.

  • Legally AutoCADed

    Ah !!!! So it is not trusted DWG, but trusted supplier of DWG. There is a world of difference. Now I have to retract my assertions that not even AutoDesk can supply a reliable DWG from their software (AutoCAD), because they can now confidently claim that it was their software that produced the possibly shonky DWG in the first place.

  • Legally AutoCADed

    Ah !!!! So it is not trusted DWG, but trusted supplier of DWG. There is a world of difference. Now I have to retract my assertions that not even AutoDesk can supply a reliable DWG from their software (AutoCAD), because they can now confidently claim that it was their software that produced the possibly shonky DWG in the first place.

  • R.Paul Waddington.

    Deelip, as I have indicated in previous postings – like you – me as a user and promoter of Autodesk products, have no fundamental issues with Autodesk trying to protect its Intellectual Property. Equally I cannot comment on the legality of the trademark suit, that’s the courts job.

    However as a user I do believe we all should take a very active interest in these proceedings and should where possible discuss and make our views, from a user’s perspective, known. After all, at the end of the day we users are those most affected.

    So with the last Autodesk paragraph of this posting I take issue.

    “The statement also covers the Autodesk-ODA law suit.”

    adsk…”The ODA software libraries contain technology that falsely identifies customer data files their software creates as Autodesk-created files”.

    rpw…I assume the courts will make the decision relating to this.

    adsk…“We have the right to control the use of our trademark…”.

    rpw…As does anyone. Fundamentally no problem here except that my understanding of the use and reasons behind a trademark appears to differ from that of Autodesk’s. Again this is an issue for the courts.

    adsk…“…and we depend on that right in informing customers of the source of the files they are introducing in their CAD environments.”

    rpw… Now this is a little different. It is obvious, to me, the DWGCHECK function, in its earlier form had this ability, and if it were turned ON did warn me the file I was about to open in AutoCAD was from another program, it read; “This file may have been last saved by a program other than Autodesk software.” This was not a statement easily misunderstood.

    adsk…“ The ODA interfered with our ability to do that.”

    rpw…Yes? In the new form I guess you could say that but as I am looking at this from a users standpoint the one thing that has changed, for me, is that I cannot turn OFF DWGCHECK and prevent the warning as I could in the earlier versions and this has an important *penalty.

    adsk…“The ODA failed to respond to our reasonable request to stop violating our rights.”

    rpw…Not privy to this correspondence so don’t know.

    adsk…“As a result Autodesk is suing the ODA in order to defend its ability, through TrustedDWG, to assure our customers of the source of customer data files and make sure the origin of the files is not falsely attributed.”

    rpw…I repeat the earlier warning, “This file may have been last saved by a program other than Autodesk software.” This did not tell us the ‘source’ and neither does the later warning, they both only indicate the files are non-Autodesk. So, again as a user, I would ask was TrustedDWG created to assist me, Autodesk,its TrustedDWG partners or as a weapon? I cannot see that the earlier warning did not achieve and “make sure the origin of the files is not falsely attributed.”

    adsk…“The ODA’s latest software libraries mimic TrustedDWG and defeat the very purpose of the program. We are relying on trademark laws to protect our ability to inform customers of the source of customer data files.”

    rpw…Courts decision, but again, as a user, Autodesk’s TrustedDWG is not telling me the ‘source’ of the file they are only doing what was previously done telling me the file did not originate in Autodesk software. I still have to find out the ‘source’. If I am doing my job correctly I should have determined the ‘true source’ long before AutoCAD is given the opportunity to do so. This is why I question the action Autodesk has taken against ODA. Autodesk assumes I, as an Autodesk customer, do not have the professional ability to adequately control and exchange files with contractors and suppliers and therefore this role is somehow Autodesk’s, through the use of its trademark??? Autodesk are trying to help me, how???

    *A side issue and one penalty of several. I create a drawing in AutoCAD and send it to a contractor for approval, quoting or similar. The contractor uses a different program and opens the .dwg file. By mutual consent he alters the file by ‘stretching’ a component of the drawing. No new entities only a change to existing AutoCAD entities; he saves and returns the ‘amended’ .dwg file. I open the returned file and AutoCAD 2007 it now tells me, “This DWG file was saved by a software application that was not developed or licensed by Autodesk. Use of this file with AutoCAD software may result in stability issues. Do you wish to continue?”. Of course I do, it’s my file, a 99.999…9% Autodesk generated file, but no longer recognized as such! Has Autodesk helped or hindered me, has Autodesk achieved its goal to, “make sure the origin of the files is not falsely attributed.”???

    I don’t believe they have because now to avoid having to look at the error message every time I need to access my files I MUST save the file in my AutoCAD again to prevent the error message appearing. Looked at from a single file point of view this may be only considered a momentary annoyance, however;
    what would occur if I pass and entire project of maybe 200+ files (or larger) over to a ‘contractor’ – using different software – for checking, revisioning or to modify to ‘as built’ status. Every file, when returned to me, must now be re-opened and re-saved by AutoCAD; great, thanks Autodesk for the extra work! Has Autodesk helped me the customer??? Has Autodesk achieved its aim to, “make sure the origin of the files is not falsely attributed.”???

    What Autodesk have really done is create more work FOR ME. I know the true source, I know who is changing the files, why and with what; having taken measures to ensure compatibility else why would I pass over my electronic files and that is as it should be. However Autodesk believes it has the right to force me now to do extra work just so they can claim they are protecting their TrustedDWG trademarks usage whilst at the same time trying to convince me they are in some way protecting me, how??? Who is kidding who?

    “Pretty much the same as what their lawyers are saying in court. At least this is the first official statement that I have seen.” And none of us would expect anything different.

    Deelip, I have also posted a variation of these comments on Owen Wengerd’s site at http://www.adskvoda.com

  • R.Paul Waddington.

    Deelip, as I have indicated in previous postings – like you – me as a user and promoter of Autodesk products, have no fundamental issues with Autodesk trying to protect its Intellectual Property. Equally I cannot comment on the legality of the trademark suit, that’s the courts job. However as a user I do believe we all should take a very active interest in these proceedings and should where possible discuss and make our views, from a user’s perspective, known. After all, at the end of the day we users are those most affected.So with the last Autodesk paragraph of this posting I take issue.”The statement also covers the Autodesk-ODA law suit.”adsk…”The ODA software libraries contain technology that falsely identifies customer data files their software creates as Autodesk-created files”.rpw…I assume the courts will make the decision relating to this.adsk…“We have the right to control the use of our trademark…”. rpw…As does anyone. Fundamentally no problem here except that my understanding of the use and reasons behind a trademark appears to differ from that of Autodesk’s. Again this is an issue for the courts. adsk…“…and we depend on that right in informing customers of the source of the files they are introducing in their CAD environments.”rpw… Now this is a little different. It is obvious, to me, the DWGCHECK function, in its earlier form had this ability, and if it were turned ON did warn me the file I was about to open in AutoCAD was from another program, it read; “This file may have been last saved by a program other than Autodesk software.” This was not a statement easily misunderstood. adsk…“ The ODA interfered with our ability to do that.” rpw…Yes? In the new form I guess you could say that but as I am looking at this from a users standpoint the one thing that has changed, for me, is that I cannot turn OFF DWGCHECK and prevent the warning as I could in the earlier versions and this has an important *penalty.adsk…“The ODA failed to respond to our reasonable request to stop violating our rights.”rpw…Not privy to this correspondence so don’t know.adsk…“As a result Autodesk is suing the ODA in order to defend its ability, through TrustedDWG, to assure our customers of the source of customer data files and make sure the origin of the files is not falsely attributed.”rpw…I repeat the earlier warning, “This file may have been last saved by a program other than Autodesk software.” This did not tell us the ‘source’ and neither does the later warning, they both only indicate the files are non-Autodesk. So, again as a user, I would ask was TrustedDWG created to assist me, Autodesk,its TrustedDWG partners or as a weapon? I cannot see that the earlier warning did not achieve and “make sure the origin of the files is not falsely attributed.” adsk…“The ODA’s latest software libraries mimic TrustedDWG and defeat the very purpose of the program. We are relying on trademark laws to protect our ability to inform customers of the source of customer data files.”rpw…Courts decision, but again, as a user, Autodesk’s TrustedDWG is not telling me the ‘source’ of the file they are only doing what was previously done telling me the file did not originate in Autodesk software. I still have to find out the ‘source’. If I am doing my job correctly I should have determined the ‘true source’ long before AutoCAD is given the opportunity to do so. This is why I question the action Autodesk has taken against ODA. Autodesk assumes I, as an Autodesk customer, do not have the professional ability to adequately control and exchange files with contractors and suppliers and therefore this role is somehow Autodesk’s, through the use of its trademark??? Autodesk are trying to help me, how???*A side issue and one penalty of several. I create a drawing in AutoCAD and send it to a contractor for approval, quoting or similar. The contractor uses a different program and opens the .dwg file. By mutual consent he alters the file by ‘stretching’ a component of the drawing. No new entities only a change to existing AutoCAD entities; he saves and returns the ‘amended’ .dwg file. I open the returned file and AutoCAD 2007 it now tells me, “This DWG file was saved by a software application that was not developed or licensed by Autodesk. Use of this file with AutoCAD software may result in stability issues. Do you wish to continue?”. Of course I do, it’s my file, a 99.999…9% Autodesk generated file, but no longer recognized as such! Has Autodesk helped or hindered me, has Autodesk achieved its goal to, “make sure the origin of the files is not falsely attributed.”??? I don’t believe they have because now to avoid having to look at the error message every time I need to access my files I MUST save the file in my AutoCAD again to prevent the error message appearing. Looked at from a single file point of view this may be only considered a momentary annoyance, however;what would occur if I pass and entire project of maybe 200+ files (or larger) over to a ‘contractor’ – using different software – for checking, revisioning or to modify to ‘as built’ status. Every file, when returned to me, must now be re-opened and re-saved by AutoCAD; great, thanks Autodesk for the extra work! Has Autodesk helped me the customer??? Has Autodesk achieved its aim to, “make sure the origin of the files is not falsely attributed.”???What Autodesk have really done is create more work FOR ME. I know the true source, I know who is changing the files, why and with what; having taken measures to ensure compatibility else why would I pass over my electronic files and that is as it should be. However Autodesk believes it has the right to force me now to do extra work just so they can claim they are protecting their TrustedDWG trademarks usage whilst at the same time trying to convince me they are in some way protecting me, how??? Who is kidding who? “Pretty much the same as what their lawyers are saying in court. At least this is the first official statement that I have seen.” And none of us would expect anything different.Deelip, I have also posted a variation of these comments on Owen Wengerd’s site at http://www.adskvoda.com

  • Anonymous

    Don’t current Microsoft Office products default to an “open” XML format?

    http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2005/jun05/06-01XMLFileFormat.mspx

    Sorry, I’m still on “old” MS office, so I don’t know for sure.

  • Anonymous

    Don’t current Microsoft Office products default to an “open” XML format?http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2005/jun05/06-01XMLFileFormat.mspxSorry, I’m still on “old” MS office, so I don’t know for sure.

  • Anonymous

    The above URL should be:

    http://tinyurl.com/7rd2t

  • Anonymous

    The above URL should be:http://tinyurl.com/7rd2t

  • Ralph

    I’m actually working with applications that create a DWG file, like Catia, Solid Works and others.

    I know the data points coming back are valid and I polish off any documents using AutoCAD because, (here’s the crux) most all Architects use AutoCAD as do Building Departments.

    So, since I’ve been a user for over 23 years I can tell you this really smells. So the only resolution is to use a DXF to avoid the “not trusted”. Adesk need to know regardless of their libraries (which they are entitled to) is they need to “play well” with other systems. Autocad is not the only solution in a multi-tier engineering application and there are other products that need to work seamlessly. AutoCAD is but one piece of the puzzle.

  • Ralph

    I’m actually working with applications that create a DWG file, like Catia, Solid Works and others. I know the data points coming back are valid and I polish off any documents using AutoCAD because, (here’s the crux) most all Architects use AutoCAD as do Building Departments. So, since I’ve been a user for over 23 years I can tell you this really smells. So the only resolution is to use a DXF to avoid the “not trusted”. Adesk need to know regardless of their libraries (which they are entitled to) is they need to “play well” with other systems. Autocad is not the only solution in a multi-tier engineering application and there are other products that need to work seamlessly. AutoCAD is but one piece of the puzzle.